Nigeria’s economic reforms in 2017, Q1 worth over $83.9bn

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has confirmed significant progress from the investment front following a consistent implementation of its economic reforms over the past 18 months with more than $83.9 billion worth of investments announced between January 2017 and the end of the first quarter of 2018.

The figure was quoted from the 2018 Making Business Work’ report which evaluated the government’s efforts in improving the business environment in Nigeria.

The report was presented Tuesday to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat during the monthly meeting of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

According to a statement, a breakdown of capital investments as contained in the report showed that in 2017, over $66 billion worth of investments were announced, comprising 112 projects across 27 states and the FCT Abuja, while an additional $17.9 billion worth of investments were announced in quarter 1 of 2018, as actual capital importation stood at $6.3 billion, representing over six times the value in quarter 1 of 2017.

According to the report, measurable progress has been recorded on multiple fronts as the economy responds to key government interventions particularly in the areas of economic growth; inflation; foreign exchange & external reserves; capital market; investment; infrastructure; and social investment programmes.

Looking at the journey so far, the report indicated that under economic growth, the rigorous implementation of the ERGP led the economy out of a recession in 2017; it grew to 0.83%, up from -1.58% recorded in 2016, on the back of improvements in agriculture, industry and trade.

It further stated that the economy had registered four consecutive quarters of steady growth. In the first quarter of 2018, the economy grew 1.95% and is projected to grow by up to 3% over the year, driven by stronger oil prices, stable production, increased non-oil output and improved foreign exchange availability.

It also indicated that for the first time in Nigeria, under the competitiveness section of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), soft infrastructure was expressly recognized as a deliberate strategy to attain economic development through the facilitation of an enabling business environment for businesses to thrive.

The report specifically recognized government’s efforts in improving the effectiveness of soft infrastructure such as the financial system; the education system; health care system; the system of government; law enforcement; and emergency service.

According to the report, “Nigeria’s reforms had so far seen it successfully move 24 places up the World Bank Ease of Doing Business rankings. Overall, in the current reform cycle, the PEBEC focused on three pillars to accelerate and expand the impact of completed reforms. The focus will be on deepening existing reforms. Complete pending initiatives and ensure implementation of completed reforms launched in 2017, including communication and consequence management, as well as making the reforms sustainable.”

On inflation, the report indicated that the pressure on prices was easing and inflation fell 16 consecutive months from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.60% in May 2018.

In the Capital Market, the report stated that the capital market recorded an outstanding performance in 2017.

According to the report, “the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index rallied 42%, with the NSE the third-best performing exchange in the world in 2017 (after the USA and Argentina).”

It further stated that in 2018/2019, “the PEBEC will continue to improve public service delivery and the business environment for MSMEs. Nigeria must improve its ranking by 45 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index over the next two years to achieve its goal of attaining the top 100 by 2020.”

The report indicated that such an ambitious goal requires accelerated and focused execution adding that the National Action Plan 6.0 (NAP 6.0) and Executive Order 01 (EO1) have laid the foundations.

It noted that government must institutionalize all efforts and work closely with the private sector to deliver an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

In the second half of 2018 and into 2019, the PEBEC will focus primarily on regulators, an Omnibus Bill on business facilitation, and consolidating gains for the economy through the deepening of the Subnational Ease of Doing Business project.